Saturday, February 09, 2008

Opening of Stephen Lawrence Centre

On Thursday I attended the official opening of the Stephen Lawrence Centre on Brookmill Road, by the Mayor of London. I've been cycling past the site almost daily since before the old Thames Water building was demolished, so it was interesting to finally see inside it. Deptford Dame and others have posted previously about the delays in opening the building and I hadn't realised that it has actually been in use for a few months - every time I've been passed, it's looked empty, but several thousand students have apparently already used its facilities.

The centre is run by the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust and will be used to train students in urban design and to provide general advice, training and guidance for young people. It is a fitting legacy for Stephen Lawrence, who had ambitions to be an architect before he was murdered.

The site posed a number of challenges for the architects, as certain parts can't be built on due to underground water pipes which need to be accessed occasionally by Thames Water, so the shape of the building was pretty much determined by the footprint they were able to build on. The architect is David Adjaye and the windows were designed by Chris Ofili.

I wasn't completely convinced when I first saw the metal cladding going onto the side of the building, but it is growing on me, and I do like the windows. The views from the balcony on the second floor are great. No obvious sign of any particularly green features in the building, but they may well be there and I just missed them.

Hopefully at some point soon the trust will find a way either to remove or make less stark the foreboding old Thames Water fencing that encircles the site without exposing the building to further vandalism. There isn't yet a notice board announcing what the building is for, and how local people can take advantage of the the excellent facilities there is missing, but I imagine that will appear soon. A bit of landscaping besides the black tarmac, and a few more bike racks for the students who are going to use the building wouldn't go amiss either, but I'll leave my criticisms there, as they shouldn't deflect from the fact that the opening was a wonderful achievement for all those involved in seeing the project through to fruition over the years.

1 comment:

Knit Nurse said...

Delighted to hear it's opened at last - I think the building is quite beautiful, what I've seen of it from the outside at least, especially the glass facade. Hopefully they will soon start opening their events and facilities to local people, I believe that would be an excellent way to create a feeling of 'ownership' and hopefully minimise or deter any further vandalism.